Daines Hydropower Bill Receives Bipartisan Support in First Hearing - 5/23/13
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Daines’ legislation to expand hydropower production in Montana today received its first hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In a Natural Resources Subcomittee on Water and Power hearing, Daines testified on how his bill, the Bureau of Reclamation Conduit Hydropower Development Equity and Jobs Act (H.R. 1963) would help lift regulatory barriers that presently block new hydropower development in Montana and other western states.
“In Montana, we say ‘whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.’ That’s how important water is to our state,” Daines stated in the hearing. “With passage of my bill, we can streamline the red tape for hydro developers, and allow generation of clean energy for America and necessary revenue for hardworking Americans, at no cost to the American taxpayer.”
Daines’ bill has received strong support and consensus from Montana irrigation districts and ag groups, as well as the Obama administration, which also expressed its support for Daines’ bill during today’s hearing.
In testimony provided on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation, Senior Advisor Robert Quint expressed support for H.R. 1963 and increasing “the generation of clean, renewable hydroelectric power in existing canals and conduits.”
H.R. 1963 will remove outdated federal statutes that currently prevent irrigation districts in Montana and other western states from developing hydropower on Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) canals, ditches, and conduits.
There are 12 projects nationwide that would be immediately impacted by Daines’ bill, four of which are in Montana (a map and full list available here).
Additionally, Daines’ bill, in combination with H.R. 678— the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, which recently passed through the House with overwhelming bipartisan support—could lead to development of at least 32 conduit hydropower sites on BOR conduits in Montana.
Video of Daines’ full testimony is available for download here.
Support for Daines’ Legislation
Mike Carlson, Manger of Buffalo Rapids Buffalo Rapids Irrigation Project in Glendive: “I thank Congressman Daines for his leadership on this issue. The Congressman’s bill provides an important opportunity for small irrigation producers to provide clean energy to our communities and receive some support for us to continue and improve our services to our farmers.”
Carlson’s full testimony, submitted into the record, may be found here.
Dan Keppen, Executive Director of the Family Farm Alliance: “If passed, this legislation would complete the policy of promoting the development of clean, renewable hydropower at all Reclamation conduits at no cost to federal taxpayers, while providing additional power supplies to the grid and lowering energy costs for consumers… We support H.R. 1963 and believe it will reduce costs to foster more conduit hydropower at federal facilities and empower local water districts to develop this generation.”
Keppen’s letter, as submitted into the record, may be found here.
Thomas F. Donnelly, Executive Vice President of the National Water Resources Association: “H.R. 1963 works to comprehensively streamline the hydropower permitting process. H.R. 1963 will create tremendous incentives for not only the Bureau but for the irrigation districts and water user associations that manage many of these facilities to move forward on small hydropower development. We applaud your leadership and strongly support your legislation.”
Donnelly’s letter, as submitted into the record, may be found here.
Pearce: Forest Service Working with Local Ranchers is a Good Start - 5/23/13
Washington, DC (May 23, 2013) - Today, U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce issued the following statement about the recent controversy over the US Forest Service’s decision to impound animals grazing in the Lincoln National Forest:
“My office has heard from ranchers and livestock owners concerned over protection of their ability to legally graze animals on public land,” Pearce said. “I have been assured by the Forest Service that individuals grazing their animals legally can continue to do so without issue. I appreciate the Forest Service meeting with local stakeholders, and I hope that we can avoid a situation like the one we faced in Rio Arriba County last year, where the county government and ranchers sued the Forest Service over decreased grazing access.”
The Forest Service recently noted that some animals have been illegally grazing on public land, and threatened to impound animals in violation of grazing laws. Local ranchers and livestock owners expressed concern over inappropriate impounding or punishment for those with permits. The Forest Service is working with concerned parties, and has promised that those acting within the law will not be affected.
Daines Joins House in Passing Bill to Approve Keystone XL Construction - 5/22/13
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Daines today joined the House of Representatives in passing the “Northern Route Approval Act,” legislation that moves forward the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by taking the approval out of President Obama’s hands.
The bill, which Daines helped introduce in March, now moves to Senate for consideration.
Click here to view Daines’ remarks
Click here to download video of Daines’ remarks
Daines spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of the legislation, to share the potential that construction Keystone XL has for Montana:
“It took Canada just seven months to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Meanwhile, Americans have been waiting four and a half years for President Obama to act.
“Montanans understand how important this project is for our economy and for our energy future. In eastern Montana, we’ve seen the tremendous potential for jobs and economic growth that’s come with the oil production in the Bakken field. In fact, this pipeline will transport up to 100,000 barrels per day of Bakken oil—that’s Montana and North Dakota oil— through a connecting ‘on-ramp’ in Baker, Montana.
“And in Glasgow, Montana, the NorVal Electric Co-Op is slated to supply electricity to one of the Keystone XL pump stations. Let me tell you what this means for middle class, hardworking Americans. If this pipeline is built, this rural electric co-op will be able to spread their cost burdens with the pipeline, and consequently hold rates steady for their 3000 customers. But if the pipeline is not approved, NorVal customers will see upwards of a 40 percent increase in their utility rates over the next ten years.
“If the President is unwilling to listen to the voice of the people, then the House will. It’s time to build the Keystone XL pipeline.”
The Northern Route Approval Act passed by a vote of 241-175.
House Passes Terry Legislation to Build Keystone Pipeline - 5/22/13
Cramer Speaks on House Floor As Full Chamber Passes Bill to Approve Keystone XL - 5/22/13
VIDEO DOWNLOAD: Floor speech
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as the full chamber passed a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline without the President’s signature. The Northern Route Approval Act, cosponsored by Cramer, would allow TransCanada Corporation to construct the pipeline on the merits of more than 15,500 pages of existing impact studies conducted by numerous federal and state entities. The U.S. State Department estimates the construction and completion of the pipeline will create 42,100 jobs. In his remarks, Cramer drew on his past experience siting the original Keystone pipeline in North Dakota.
“One of the pipelines we sited while I was on the Public Service Commission was the original TransCanada Keystone pipeline. It carries over 500,000 barrels of crude from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta to U.S. refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma. The first 217 miles of the pipeline actually run through our state. It crosses the border in Cavalier County, North Dakota, and runs through 7 more counties, crossing 600 landowners’ land, two scenic rivers, and includes five pumping stations,” Cramer said. “Not a single inch of the line in North Dakota required condemnation proceedings, not because I was such a great regulator, but because I represent great citizens. Our citizens understand the value of energy security and the jobs energy development creates.”
The State Department has publicly released over 15,500 pages of documents on the pipeline since it began study in 2008.The review of the project includes two separate pipeline permit applications submitted by TransCanada, and two corresponding Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). The most recent public comment period for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the project ended April 22. Cramer sent a letter to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Coordinator Genevieve Walker, requesting the statement be finalized immediately following this deadline.
The route will transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, including 100,000 barrels from the Williston Basin, to American refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. More than 1,700 days have passed since TransCanda filed the application for the Keystone XL. By contrast, the permit for the original Keystone pipeline was approved in three years despite crossing two more states, stretching 771 additional miles, and meeting strict environmental standards.
“The environmental safeguards we demanded on the Keystone are rigorous and appropriate. They’ve been tested and they work. I toured the Keystone during construction, and met many of the men and women who were grateful for the good paying jobs building the line, and many local restaurant and hotel proprietors, retailers, and subcontractors who were happy to have work and business. The local officials and school administrators are grateful for the tax revenue that would not be there but for the Keystone pipeline, and of course the tax relief it provides local farmers in addition to the easement payments are a blessing,” Cramer added in his remarks.
Congressman Cramer is a member of the Natural Resources and Science, Space and Technology Committees, including the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, and the Subcommittee on Energy of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
Pearce: Keystone Means Jobs, Energy for America - 5/22/13
PEARCE: KEYSTONE MEANS JOBS, ENERGY FOR AMERICA
Washington, DC (May 22, 2013) - Today, U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce voted for H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act. The legislation approves the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL Pipeline, providing lower gas prices, reduced reliance on Middle-Eastern oil, valuable energy jobs, and investment in the U.S. Economy.
“For nearly half a decade, the American economy has suffered under slow growth, sky-high unemployment, and unending news of people without work and businesses closing down,” said Pearce. “For almost that whole time, a truly shovel-ready project has been available that would mean 20,000 new American jobs and 7 billion dollars in new investment for our economy. This project alone will lower gas prices and reduce our dependence on unstable countries by providing 34.9 million gallons of oil per day—half the amount we import from the Middle East. We can’t afford to delay one single day longer—let’s approve the Keystone XL Pipeline and give Americans jobs, economic growth, and a secure energy future.”
As chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, Pearce has been an outspoken advocate for commonsense solutions that provide energy and jobs for America, including the Keystone Pipeline. Pearce is an original cosponsor of H.R. 3.
Lamborn- Keystone Pipeline: Since President Refuses to Act, Congress Will - 5/22/13
Lamborn Speaks on House Floor in Support of Bill to Complete Keystone XL Pipeline
Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) delivered the following statement on the House floor in support of H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act:
Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) speaks on the House Floor in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline
To view video, clickhere.
I rise in strong support of this legislation. From day one the Obama Administration has inexplicably put up roadblock after roadblock to prevent the construction of the Keystone Pipeline – a pipeline that would create tens of thousands of American jobs and securely bring 800,000 barrels of oil a day to American consumers – and these numbers are according to the Administration's own Department of Energy and State Department. The project would lead to billions of dollars in investment into the U.S. economy.
Besides obstructing construction of the northern portion of the pipeline, President Obama had no shame in taking credit for construction of the southern section of the pipeline – which did not require his approval.
Sadly, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that due to delays by the Obama Administration, Canada has no choice but to consider alternative options for bringing its oil to market – including constructing a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific coast for export to China. If we don’t take advantage of this opportunity – somebody else will, probably China.
After four Environmental Impact Statements, all of which have concluded there will be minimal environmental impacts, the Administration continues to stall construction of the pipeline. It would lessen our dependence on foreign oil from dangerous parts of the world by integrating our friendly northern neighbor into our energy economy. With each day that passes, we slowly lose one of the best opportunities this country has had in a generation to secure our energy independence.
Since the President refuses to act, Congress will. The Northern Route Approval Act removes the President’s veto and will ensure that after years of extensive studies, construction of the pipeline can move forward so America can begin to benefit from this tremendous opportunity.
I urge adoption of the act, and yield back to the Chairman.
# # #
Lamborn: Give Me a Break from High Energy Costs - 5/22/13
Witnesses Highlight the Importance of Onshore Energy Development for Jobs, Economic Growth & Energy Security
Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a legislative hearing on four bills that would streamline government red tape and expand development of America’s onshore oil, natural gas, and renewable energy resources as part of a true all-of-the-above approach to energy production.
“Americans shouldn’t be forced to make summer vacation plans based on the prices at the pump. These bills are an important step toward bringing down gasoline prices and giving hard working families a much needed break from the Obama no-energy agenda. Our bills would also create American jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign imports, and even help reduce the national debt by bringing in more revenue for the treasury. When we can lower the national debt, there will be more money left for Americans to spend on the needs of their families,” said Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (CO-05).
H.R. 1964, the “National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act” would cut through cumbersome government regulations to unlock the full potential of the National Petroleum Reserve ? Alaska (NPR-A) by ensuring its energy resources are developed and transported in a timely, efficient manner. It would also nullify the Interior Department’s plan to close over half of the NPR-A to energy production. Witnesses from Alaska stressed the importance of responsible production in the NPR-A:
“The State of Alaska supports legislative measures that promote access to federal lands for responsible resource development and bring timeliness and
efficiency to the federal land management and permitting processes. Federal policy must take a new direction to realize the opportunities and strategic benefits that responsible resource development plays for the nation. The State of Alaska fully supports H.R. 1964.” - Dan Sullivan, Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner
“I think it is important for Congress to reaffirm that the purpose of the NPR-A is to provide oil and gas resources to the United States and to take steps to ensure that the Reserve is managed in a way that allows for responsible natural resource development.” - Charlotte Brower, North Slope Alaska Borough Mayor
“Safe and responsible oil and gas development is the only industry that has remained in our region long enough to foster village improvements that have improved our quality of life…We understand that the currently-known onshore resources are not enough to stem the decline in production; they only reduce its severity. New exploration is needed. Oil, as they say, is where you find it. We have hydrocarbons-coal, natural gas and oil, and in some places we have them in abundance. Resource potential exists on both State- and federally-owned owned lands, as well as private lands owned by North Slope Alaska Natives, including prospects in the NPR-A. NPR-A and the Alaskan offshore represent the future.”- Richard K. Glenn, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s Lands & Natural Resources Executive Vice President
H.R. 1965, the“Federal Lands and Energy Security Act” and H.R. 1394, the“Planning for American Energy Act of 2013” are important pieces of legislation that would expand onshore energy production by streamlining the permitting process, providing leasing certainty, and facilitating oil shale development.
“The federal government owns millions of acres prospective for oil and gas across the Inter-Mountain West. The unmistakable conclusion is that the prosperity, the jobs, the harvest of domestic resources – from unconventional oil and gas plays, enhanced recovery projects and technology breakthroughs to come – can only be realized to their potential by mandating the Department of the Interior devise and publicize a plan to: encourage development, provide leasing certainty and streamline oil and gas permitting.”- Jack R. Ekstrom, Whiting Petroleum Corporation’s Vice President of Government & Corporate Relations
H.R. 555, the “BLM Live Internet Auctions Act” would update the federal oil and natural gas leasing process by authorizing live internet auctions. This would save taxpayer dollars by updating an antiquated and outdated system.
“The BLM Live Internet Auctions Act that you are considering would allow the BLM to harness the power of a vast Internet?based oil and gas auction marketplace, which presents a host of new opportunities to the BLM…Through modernization, you allow the BLM to increase the participation and competition for every lease sale, and increase their revenue through higher parcel values and lower internal costs. This can happen for the BLM through the BLM Live Internet Auctions Act. This piece of legislation opens the door, by giving the Secretary of the Interior the authorization to establish an Internet leasing program. This common sense piece of legislation can truly change the future of the BLM’s leasing program.” -William W. Britain, EnergyNet.com, Inc CEO
Lummis Bill Deficit-Friendly, Balanced Approach To Federal Land Ownership - 5/21/13
Congressman Lummis introduces FLTFA reauthorization to speed up the sale of surplus federal lands and promote a disposal-first policy.
WASHINGTON – On Tuesday U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) reintroduced the bipartisan H.R. 2068, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA) Reauthorization of 2013. FLTFA authorizes the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell surplus federal lands to states, localities, or private entities so they can be put to economically-beneficial use. Profits from the sales can then be used to purchase state or private land encumbered by National Parks and other federal areas, advancing conservation goals and improving recreational access. FLTFA could also help finance the acquisition of Wyoming-owned school trust lands like the two that remain in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP).
“For too long, the federal focus has been solely on growing federal land holdings while federal land ripe for disposal sits idle and dilemmas like the Grand Teton land parcels remain outstanding,” said Lummis. “Add to the mix our insurmountable national debt and there is clearly the need for more innovative and taxpayer-friendly solutions to land ownership problems inherent in the west. FLTFA is a land-for-land, disposal-first tool to rationalize land ownership patterns in furtherance of economic development, responsible conservation, and enhancing recreational opportunities—all without spending tax dollars or adding to the surplus of federally-owned property.”
“FLTFA reauthorization will benefit Wyoming and the West because it balances economic and conservation needs. I appreciate Rep. Lummis leading the way on this legislation that will provide public access for places to fish, hunt, hike, and camp, while also protecting key natural resources.” Luke Lynch, Wyoming Director, the Conservation Fund.
“By introducing her bill reauthorizing FLTFA with significant improvements, Representative Lummis is bringing to Washington the common sense approach to land transactions that has long been used by the State of Wyoming to acquire and dispose of state trust lands. The land-for-land approach is a balanced policy that doesn’t rely on taxpayer dollars. Private landowners, public land states and American taxpayers will benefit from passage of FLTFA.” Jim Magagna, Executive Vice President, Wyoming Stock Growers Association.
“We applaud Representatives Lummis and others for introducing this critical bill for western lands. FLTFA reauthorization will provide opportunities for public access for hunting, and will conserve natural habitats that will ensure the future of elk and other wildlife.” Blake Henning, Vice President of Lands and Conservation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act:
In July of 2000, Congress enacted the Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act (FLTFA). FLTFA authorizes the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell public lands identified for disposal through the land use planning process and retain the proceeds from the sales in a special account set up in the Treasury. These funds remain available without additional appropriation, so the program is self-funded and does not rely on taxpayer money.
FLTFA was initially authorized through July 2010, and extended once through July 25, 2011. Since its enactment, the BLM has sold just under 27,000 acres of surplus lands and used the proceeds to acquire approximately 18,000 acres within federal areas identified as having high resource value.
Highlights of H.R. 2068
· Reauthorizes FLTFA, currently expired, through 2020.
· Expands the pool of eligible lands to be sold to include any lands identified for disposal in past or future federal land management plans. Under the 2000 authorization, only land marked for disposal prior to 2000 was eligible for sale.
· Requires the Department of the Interior to establish and make available to the public an online database of all land marked for disposal.
· Directs agencies to give consideration to recreational access, including for hunting and fishing, in implementing the law.
· At the expiration of the reauthorization period, devotes any remaining funds in the FLTFA account to deficit reduction.
History of the Grand Teton National Park land parcels:
The two state-owned parcels are approximately 1,280 acres within Grand Teton National Park, and are valued at $45 million and $46 million, respectively. Unaffiliated with the Park, the parcels are leased to cattle ranchers to generate revenue for schools. Governor Matt Mead and the Wyoming State Legislature have approved the land sale to the Park; however, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) may not receive funding adequate to complete the deal reached between the State of Wyoming and the federal government.
Utah Governor Herbert Emphasizes Success of Western States in Land Management - 5/21/13
WASHINGTON – Today, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held an oversight hearing featuring testimony by Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association. The hearing highlighted the challenges of western states regarding federal and state land management.
At the hearing, Members and Governor Herbert discussed how states are able to find their own solutions to land management, tailored to their unique circumstances. In contrast, the federal government is bound by a statutory and regulatory framework that keeps them from effective land management. Utah and other states are successfully managing their lands in ways that protect natural resources and promote a healthy economy, and protect public access.
“Governor Herbert illustrated during today’s hearing that states are effectively and efficiently managing the lands and resources located within their borders and can handle this in the future,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01). “As we heard today, the federal government isn’t always the better option and as federal budgets get appropriately tighter, we ought to begin examining redundancies between state and federal land management programs. Frankly, the federal government is so often more of a hindrance than a help. If we want to get serious about responsible development of our resources, better land management practices, and real recovery of wildlife species, we ought to be looking more to the states for solutions and not to federal bureaucrats in Washington. I appreciate Governor Herbert’s insight and it is encouraging to see that states are truly leading the way. It is my hope that Washington will finally wake up and see that states are better suited to deal with many of the issues which Washington has managed poorly over the years.”
“Sadly, we have strayed far from this vision of states as independent and robust policy innovators,” said Gov. Gary Herbert, UT. “No one understands state challenges and demographics better than the people who reside and govern there. No one is more committed to the most effective use of limited resources for the best possible outcome, for both our lands and our citizens, than those who will directly live with the consequences of those decisions.”
Governor Herbert also highlighted how poor federal government management has impacted the health of our national forests and public lands.
“National Parks have an estimated $11 billion maintenance backlog. The U.S. Forest Service has its own multi-billion dollar backlog,” said Gov. Gary Herbert. “Meanwhile, millions of acres of national forests have fallen victim to bark beetles and other insect and disease plights and are at risk to catastrophic wildfire. At the same time, a good portion of our federal grazing lands throughout the West are in poor condition. All of these conditions have resulted in an increase in the number and complexity of wildfires, leading further to exponentially higher suppression costs. Unfortunately, federal land management agencies operate within a statutory and regulatory framework that keeps them from effectively addressing rapid declines in range and forest health. Similarly, federal land management decisions today are paralyzed by litigation. Often, special interest groups use the judicial process to simply delay in an attempt to either wear out or bankrupt the opposition. This leads to further gridlock and the infamous ‘analysis paralysis’.”